Bipartisan support has emerged for a national electric car supply chain policy in the United States Senate. The federal government is now inching closer to implementing action to challenge China’s dominance in electric vehicle metal and battery production, Reuters reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently held a hearing on the American Mineral Security Act. The legislation aims to make it easier and quicker for mines to meet regulations and gain permits for lithium, graphite, and other minerals or precious materials for electric car production. It would also require a tally of metal reserves in the country.
The legislation features bipartisan sponsors: Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. At the hearing, Murkowski said the U.S. is doing itself no favors by not knowing how much of a particular natural resource is available, in reference to the tally mandate for electric car materials.
The process would send field experts out across the U.S. to take rock samples and understand what minerals might be hiding beneath our own feet. Experts said current estimates of lithium and other rare earth minerals used in battery production are likely conservative.
Everyone agreed China has a huge head start on production and processing. Even some U.S. facilities face somewhat of a monopoly and must send minerals to China for processing because the market remains weak domestically. Some companies called for federal loan guarantees to boost mining production and jumpstart the market. Investors are often wary of new mine projects in the U.S. because of China’s dominance in the segment.
The Trump Administration has already signaled support for the bipartisan legislation, though it’s unclear when the committee will bring the legislation up for a vote.